After a year of contentious back-and-forth, legal wrangling and advisory board votes, University of California, San Diego's administration served the Che Café Collective an official eviction notice on Tuesday, March 17.
The order mandates that the co-op vacate its building -- the iconic, 73-year-old Che Café building -- within five days of the notice’s posting. After March 22, the administration can and may bring in law enforcement agents to enact a lock out and/or remove anyone opting not to vacate voluntarily.
The Che Café/UCSD battle has raged on since May 2014, when the University Center Advisory Board (UCAB) -- a student-run committee -- voted to cut funding for the partially student-fee funded club. The school cited safety hazards and imminent, extensive repairs ordered by the campus fire marshal and an overall lack of current student interest in the club as primary reasons for putting the collective under the gun. [Read the original SoundDiego story on the vote here.]
On May 19, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) voted (9-4) to de-certify the co-op. On June 2, the GSA voted again (24-2) to terminate the Che Café’s month-to-month lease. The school did just that on June 13.
In July, the co-op went on the offensive and sued the school for the "unlawful" termination of its lease and alleged collusion between the GSA and UCSD to decertify the club [read the SoundDiego report here].
San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal ruled on Oct. 21 in favor of UCSD, arguing that the co-op had not requested the proper dispute resolution procedure it was required to make per the terms of its lease -- which ultimately meant the university was then free to terminate the lease at any time. The Che Cafe immediately appealed the ruling. [Read the SoundDiego report here.]
According to a Che Café Collective spokesman, Monty Reed Kroopkin, the March 17 eviction notice has been unjustly served: “The appeal the Collective filed of the eviction lawsuit ruling is still pending a ruling from the appellate court.”
The eviction, the latest development in a series of intense back-and-forth between the two parties, follows on the heels of a joint proposal issued Feb. 9, 2015 by Associated Students (AS) and GSA ad hoc committees -- which recommended the Che Café be shut down for a period of 18 months and requested the collective to program outside the building until the end of spring 2016, "at which time metrics regarding student involvement in programming (sign-in sheets, ticket sales, etc.) can be evaluated for further action." [Read the proposal in full here.]
The proposal also requested that the co-op enter into an interim re-integration program starting this fall -- which means the club would be required to host several events elsewhere on campus, at Porter's Pub, the Loft, the Sun God lawn, Revelle Plaza and other locations. Starting at the end the 2015-16 school year, it was proposed that the collective would possibly be allowed to program at the Che Cafe building, "provided that: (1) financial stability and sustainability has been achieved, (2) student involvement has improved, (3) funding has been secured to repair the Che Cafe and (4) renovations and repairs have been completed."
The presidents of the AS and GSA issued a joint statement on March 2 asking the collective to embrace the proposal and work with them on demonstrating "that they can serve as a student-centered organization." They also requested that the co-op vacate the building so that "safety concerns with the building can be addressed." [Read the statement in full here.]
Representatives for the Che Cafe balked at the proposal and issued the following response on Feb. 25.
"The C.H.E. Cafe Collective is opposed to any solution that includes the collective leaving the C.H.E. Cafe Building. To leave the building would be tantamount to forfeiting the property. The UC San Diego administration has a history of refusing to allow organizations, such as the Craft Center, to reclaim buildings after they have left. We also feel the reasoning behind the request to leave the building is problematic. There is not a need to vacate. No safety issues with the building have been properly demonstrated, and student support of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective is strong and continues to grow with each meeting and event that is being held at the C.H.E. Cafe building."
The press release went on to say that the co-op would continue to work with AS and GSA to halt the eviction process. However, according to a March 3 post on the group's official Facebook page, university administration had asked that they "voluntarily vacate the building by March 14, 2015. Failure to comply with this notice will result in a posting of the court-ordered eviction."
That eviction came Tuesday, after the collective hosted Che Fest 2015, a 19-band all-day/night benefit show, at the club on March 14. A post on the collective’s Facebook page on March 17 confirmed the news that they had received an eviction notice.
The co-op went on to say, “If you want to get involved on how we are taking steps to move forward, please join us at a meeting at The Che at 7 this Friday [March 20].”
SoundDiego will continue to provide updates on any further developments.